How to remove all formatting in Word

Updated February 21, 2017

When you copy and paste text into one Microsoft Word document from another or merge multiple documents into one, all text maintains the formatting it had in the original source. While this can be useful to a point, it can also make it harder to apply a unified, coherent formatting style to the entirety of the document, especially if it is very long. Clear all old formatting from the document before you begin applying the new to ensure the finished product looks exactly as you want it to.

Microsoft Word 2013, 2010 or 2007

Launch Microsoft Word and open the document you're working on.

Select the part of the document from which you want to remove formatting, using either your mouse or your keyboard. Alternatively, press "Ctrl-A" to select the entire contents of the document.

Select the "Home" tab and click the "Clear Formatting" button that is located in the top right of the Font group. This button looks like a small eraser over text (see picture). This action removes all of the text formatting and resets paragraph formatting to the default.

Microsoft Word 2003

Launch Microsoft Word and open your document. Ensure the "Styles and Formatting" panel is open. If it isn't, click the "Styles and Formatting" button on the "Formatting" toolbar to display it.

Select the text from which you want to remove the formatting, using either your mouse or your keyboard.

Click "Clear Formatting." This removes all text formatting and resets paragraph formatting to the default style.


Clearing text formatting does not remove highlighting. If the text you selected has highlighting that you want to remove, select the "Home" tab, click the arrow on the "Text Highlight Colour" button and then click "No Colour."

To remove text formatting from the selected text but leave paragraph styles intact, press "Ctrl-Space."

To reset paragraph formatting in the selected text to the default but leave text formatting intact, press "Ctrl-Shift-N."

To remove all hyperlinks from the selected text, press "Ctrl-Shift-F9."


If you're running an earlier version of Microsoft Word than 2003, the process of clearing formatting may vary from the above explanations.

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About the Author

Laurel Storm has been writing since 2001, and helping people with technology for far longer than that. Some of her articles have been published in "Messaggero dei Ragazzi", an Italian magazine for teenagers. She holds a Master of Arts in writing for television and new media from the University of Turin.